Sales Exec Wins Noncompete Agreement Battle

March 11, 2008 ( - A former sales representative for a Cincinnati-based industrial uniform rental and sales company who has been fighting his old employer over a noncompete agreement has won a legal battle before a federal appellate court.

The 7 th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with U.S. District Judge Elaine E. Bucklo of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois that the noncompete agreement from Cintas Corp. was too broad to be properly enforceable. Circuit Judge   Diane S. Sykes, writing for the appellate court, said Bucklo was correct in turning away a Cintas request to correct the agreement’s legal problems and then order it enforced.

Finally, Sykes wrote, Bucklo was on the mark in ruling that the company had not presented enough evidence to support its contention that Daniel Perry violated the noncompete document when he left Cintas for a job with a competitor and in awarding Perry’s lawyers reimbursement of fees and costs.

Sykes asserted that Cintas’ contention that Bucklo should modify the noncompete provision to render it reasonable was “an implicit concession that the provision was overbroad and unenforceable as written.”

According to the opinion, Perry began working for in 1993 as a sales representative. Although he was promoted to national account manager for Illinois and Indiana in 2000, he resigned in 2003 for a job as vice president of sales for a Cintas competitor.

Cintas filed a breach of contract suit in Illinois federal court, alleging that Perry violated his employment agreement.

In ruling that the company’s allegations of a contract breach were unsupported, Sykes pointed out that Perry:

  • had provided his new employer with a copy of the Cintas agreement;
  • had accompanied a coworker to a sales call on a Cintas customer, but remained in the car; and
  • had interviewed a job applicant over the phone, but cut off the conversation when he learned the applicant was a Cintas employee.

The ruling is here .